Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Departmental Discrimination

Ira said that no one had commented on his example of the misuse of statistics at Pugugly University. Before we can determine if Ira is right or not about this being an abuse , we need to define the problem and then see whether or not the conclusion drawn from the statistics is correct. If the thesis is that the university is discriminating against women, then Ira is exactly right. The raw data shows no such thing. Averaging the percentages over the departments is nonsense given that the departments are different sizes. More properly, the percentages need to be weighted with the relative department size. This would turn out to be the answer that Ira got, that the total percentage of males and females were the same. However, there is a caveat here.

It is highly unlikely that there is an inter-departmental effort to balance the number of male and female hire. Logically, one needs to consider one department at a time to see whether some are guilty of discriminating against men and others against women. Engineering might discriminate against women while humanities discriminates against men. The imbalance is an indication of something gone askew. It's pretty clear that the important question with respect to civil rights is whether or not roughly equally qualified candidates have equal probabilities of being selected whether male or female. If there's any statistic that might come close to answering this question it's the ratio of the number of females selected to the number of females applicants, over let's say five years, as compared to that ratio for males for the same period. We also have to note another caveat.

There are those who would hold PU responsible for the lack of female applicants under the doctrine of affirmative action. The figures could be interpreted to say that PU did not do a good enough job in reaching out to females in graduate school or college or high school or in the cradle. This is a natural consequence of a belief that men and women are fundamentally the same. Unfortunatly some of our civil rights commission members are afflicted with this notion.

1 comment:

Ira Glickstein said...


Excellent points!

To some, *any* difference between the statistics for women and men or between protected minorities and caucasians that shows women or protected minorities in an inferior position is, ipso-facto, evidence of discrimination.

Even research that demonstrates conclusively the inherent differences between female and male babies is questioned. Rather than accept the data or investigate the data and methodology further, the subject is changed to an attack on the motives of the scientists conducting the research.

Lawyers say, "When the facts are on your side, argue the facts loudly; when the law is on your side, argue the law loudly; when neither are on your side just argue loudly!"

Men and women *are* different. As the French say: "Vive la difference!"